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What Will Kate Wear to the State Banquet: Jenny Packham

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Good morning! We continue our "What Will Kate Wear to the State Banquet" series by looking at the next possible candidate in the race to design the dress. Last time, we chatted about the lead candidate--the horse out ahead of the pack--and that is, of course, Alexander McQueen. Tonight, we turn to another worthy possibility:  the Queen of Kate's evening wear, Jenny Packham. (Kate wore this black Jenny P at a State Reception Down Under. It isn't floor length, and so is not included, but it is an evening event at which Kate went with JP.)

I know what you are thinking. Last time, we discovered that Kate has actually debuted more McQueen evening gowns than any other designer, but... I think that Packham retains the crown for Queen of the Night because she has designed for some really big events--more big evening events than McQueen. Perhaps more accurately, we could say that she has had a magic concoction of high-profile events and really head turning designs. Let's look over the dresses to get a sense of what his means.

On her very first public event as a royal, the very first, Kate and William were slated to attend the ARK Gala. That was a huge, historical, iconic moment. Kate wore this shimmering Packham gown that remains to this day, a favorite for many. 

It was almost a year later that she wore her second JP evening gown, but it was another stunner. In May 2012, she wore the teal Jenny P to the Our Greatest Team Rises gala, and it dazzled. I think this is my favorite evening gown. I am still head over heels with it, and it continues to wow me despite my familiarity with it. 

In 2013, Kate had another big event on her calendar. Her come-back after George's birth was the hotly anticipated Tusk Trust gala. This was the longest dry-patch we had experienced since (what will become) a life-time of being spoiled rotten commenced on the 29th of April in 2011. She turned to Jenny Packham again, debuting this super-sparkly column dress. Was I super-duper in love with the dress? I won't go that far, but (to use a colloquial turn of phrase at which my mother would purse her lips) Kate looked pretty smoking, so there was that.

It was just the next month that she debuted what turned out to be a very popular dress. On an evening out (in? The event was held in the KP State Apartments...) for 101 Women in Hedge Funds and Action Addiction, Kate debuted an ink-blue Jenny Packham. We loved it at the time, but fans were a little disappointed that we didn't get a better look at the stunner. The lighting wasn't ideal, and as is generally the case when Kate attends an evening of this sort, pictures were scarce. 

Little did we know, we had nothing to worry about.  Kate gave this dress the good ol' Royal-Repeat when she wore it in February of 2014 on her first public engagement of that year. It was a notable appearance because she paired it with the eye-watering Nizam of Hyderabad necklace on loan from the Queen. Kate almost never wears bling of this degree, and it was a bit of a random one-off. I have no idea what precipitated it, nor why she never went back, thankful for small blessings. It was fun and unexpected! 

It would have been within reason to think that was it for the ink-blue Jenny P. It was a beauty and it got its fair shake. Ha! Kate the Great never ceases to amaze. Who would have thought that on the final night of her hugely popular tour of NYC, at the glittering and imposing Metropolitan Museum of Art, that Kate would wear anything but a new, custom design? Not so. Kate pulled a three-peat. It couldn't have been more fabulous. With her hair swept up and with new, dazzling emeralds dripping from her ears, Kate was every inch the princess. It was almost as if the confidence of the recycle made her even more amazing. I think we were all wowed. Well done, Your Grace. 

This (St. Andrews 600th) was the last time we saw Kate in a Jenny Packham evening gown, but let us not forget that between the repeat and the three-peat, she wore one other Jenny Packham dress that was floor-length. That would be this, her most unusual gown. Many speculate, and I am of the same mind, that Kate had this dress made for her trip to Malta, which was regrettably canceled due to her HG with Charlotte. It certainly would have been perfect for a Mediterranean night!

So, to sum up. Yes, McQueen has the larger evening gown count if we are considering debuts only, Packham squeaks by McQueen in the count if we consider appearances only, and I would argue that Packham has beaten McQueen in the "quality" i.e. notoriety of the events. You will see photos of Kate waving on the steps of the Met in NYC, pregnant with her second child, far more than you will of Kate presenting a quick award for BBC. (No disrespect to that event.) You will see far more photos of Kate in that teal bridal gown than you will the hibiscus Belle dress--again, no disrespect to Malaysia. Although I am not suggesting Jenny will snag eh State Banquet, she still rules the night. 

Next up, we will discuss, ahem, third tier possibilities. I haven't gotten a chance to respond to the comments, and likely will not be able to given how much work I have on this end, but I have enjoyed so many of the comments on the possibilities, and agree with many solid points that have been made. We will sum up some of those in the final post of this series. 

What Will Kate Wear to the State Banquet: McQueen

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Just over the past weekend, we discovered that Kate will be attending the State Banquet this October, when the president of China visits Britain in October. We are still waiting to hear the exact date, but while we wait I think everyone's thoughts have turned to, what will Kate wear? That's a hard question to answer beyond the obvious: a floor length evening gown. It is fun, however, to speculate on who Kate will wear and with that in mind, I am undertaking a series of posts examining the labels that are the most likely contenders.

Glitz & Glamour: A State Banquet at Buckingham Palace

Let's start with the strongest possibility: Alexander McQueen (Sarah Burton). We think of Jenny Packham for evening wear, and although we will discuss Packham in the next post, Kate has actually worn more McQueen, if we count the dresses rather than the appearances. Let's review all six of the McQueen gowns in chronological order. I have linked each appearance to its corresponding ensemble page on my wardrobe website Kate's Clothes, and I have linked directly to the individual item, as well. You can follow either of the links for each ensemble to learn more about the event or about the dress. 

The first gown was, of course, the ball gown the brand new princess donned for her wedding reception. This dress often gets lost in the shuffle or overshadowed by the star of the show earlier in the day, but it was a separate piece all its own:

The pressure to look her very best was certainly high when Kate visited (arguably) the capital of glamour, Hollywood.  Tom Ford and a host of American designers had been named as possible options for Kate to choose for her appearance at the BAFTA "Brits to Watch" evening, but the Duchess flew the British flag in a simple, but gorgeous lilac evening gown from Alexander McQueen. I think we can safely say, she stunned the stars.

In December of 2011, she wore her third McQueen gown as she attended the Millies with William and Harry. The dress was a customized, black velvet which strongly echoed Princess Diana's similar gown early in her own royal life. Kate paired the gown with a sparkling necklace and matching bracelet from Mouawad:

In 2012, while touring South East Asia, Kate and William were the guests of honor at a State Banquet. Kate did not wear a tiara, but she did debut a bespoke gown from McQueen. This one was decorated in golden hibiscus flowers--the official flower of Malaysia. 

Leaving her sickbed briefly, Kate presented at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards in the late fall of 2012. She once again wore McQueen, this time a floor length dress in deep, forest green with a slit up the front. Again, this dress gets a little lost in the shuffle, but had Kate been feeling better, she would have made a more thorough appearance and this would have had better exposure. 

The final McQueen evening gown that Kate has worn publicly was to the Diplomats' Reception at Buckingham Palace in 2013. (NB: this was not a State Banquet, as has been suggested in some comments.) We only caught a glimpse, but the dress featured lots of lace. This also happened to be the only time other than on her wedding day that Kate has worn a tiara. (Again, reflecting some comments from earlier posts, since the Diplomats' Reception was a different kind of event, we didn't get inside pictures. We will get pictures from the upcoming State Banquet.)

I think it is almost out of the question that Kate would recycle. Her first State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, and presumably in a tiara, seems to demand a brand new, and likely bespoke dress. McQueen would be a very good guess, but it would not be fair to say the only possibility. Join me next time as we look at other labels who have a chance at dressing Kate for the State Banquet!

P.S. the comment section has gotten a bit volatile. I will address this in a post later this week. For the moment, please abide (or continue to abide) by the comment guidelines. :) 

The Mystery of Missing Kate

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Good evening! Well, I had planned a different post for today, but the mystery of Kate missing the wedding has more or less eclipsed all else. I apologize for the confusion in the last post. A lot of weird details flew about and several of them surfaced after I had posted. Let's just pop through what we know at the moment, since I know there are a lot of different ideas running around. 

We have it on very solid authority that Kate was supposed to be at the weekend wedding in Thurlestone. Sebastian Shakespeare is quite a good source when it comes to the celebrity social circuit. He claims that Kate was a no-show at the very last moment and that her name was still on the place-cards. 
The hosts appeared to have been informed so late that Kate’s name was still on the seating plan at the reception in a marquee overlooking the village green. ‘The names William and Catherine Wales were written on the plan, which appeared on an antique-looking mirror,’ a source claims. ‘They were due to sit at the top table. Kate had been expected to attend.'
As a side note, I am a little charmed to see that the Cambridges continue to go by "Wales." As you may recall, the story went that William introduced Kate to the guests at this wedding reception as "Mrs. Wales." Of course, we also have heard that Kate has used her current title as a surname as well, os I suspect their is an element of interchangeability and perhaps transition. In any event, a cute detail that I very much enjoyed. Back to the story.

So,  we have it on good authority that Kate had planned to be there. There were multiple reports that Kate was spotted with William on the train down to Devon (not Cornwall. ;)). Unfortunately, this is a little harder to verify, but ultimately, it might not be terribly important. 

William did show, but there are two different reports. One said he came alone, but the Sebastian report seems to suggest that Pippa, rather than just happening to be at the same wedding, actually filled in for Kate as Will's date. Does this mean she sat at the head table with him? I don't know. But the implication in the Daily mail articles is that she did. 

Again, this isn't super important to know, but it could tell us whether Kate had some warning that she wouldn't be able to attend. Did she have a day to ring up Pips and say, "Sis, I need you to pinch hit for me. William needs a buddy. Can you book it down to Devon?" Or, was it the morning of the big-do that Kate backed out,a nd did the hosts, not wanting to shuffle the seating, just moved the royal's sister-in-law to the head table? 

I do not find it strange that William and Pippa spent the weekend together. If William was without Kate, and Pippa was without any date, it makes sense they would stick together. They are, after all, family, and no one likes to float about alone at a wedding. 

I also do not find it odd that William stayed the entire weekend. Why should he rush home just because Kate was not there? He had two reasons for staying on: his own personal enjoyment, and consideration for his hosts. 

Let us assume that Kate was unable to make the event for some reason other than a deathly malady that would demand William's presence at her sickbed. Wouldn't she urge him to enjoy the weekend as planned? Wouldn't you urge a loved one to do the same? Isn't love actually willing the good of another? Selflessly? Wherever Kate was, I am sure she was comfortable and safe. Just because she could not make the weekend does not mean that she wouldn't urge William to proceed as planned. Plus, if Pippa was going solo, expecting to be kept company by her family, Kate would take Pippa's feelings and comfort into consideration, as well. I would urge my spouse to look out for my little sister, too. Some things don't change, no matter how "adult" you are.

The second consideration, is of course, that William and Kate were obviously going to be the celebrity guests. Every party has a few people on the list who are particularly fun or exciting. If those particular guests bail, it is a disappointment. So, losing Kate was bad enough. William probably felt a renewed need to stay to the bitter end of the festivities so as not to further dampen the fun and the festivities. Nothing odd here at all. He was gracious in attending the entire weekend as planned. 

So finally, the million dollar question. Where was Kate? To which I respond, I don't know---but, does it matter? The most obvious likelihood is that either she, or one of her children, was taken ill. It happens even to royals. Life has a weird way of springing those things at the most inopportune of times.

Nothing suggests there is trouble in paradise. Au contraire, I believe that if William and Kate were dealing with strain in their marriage, they would be at pains to project the opposite picture to the world, and so I think Kate would have been present and smiling. When you are truly on the rocks, you put on a good show. You paint a smile on your face, and you soldier through. There is absolutely nothing to suggest anything is amiss with the Waleses. 

This is a tempest in a teapot, a mountain made from a mole hill, whatever other charming sayings we have inherited from posterity. DOn't give it anymore mind. It happens, it was too bad, and I am sure that Kate was as disappointed as anyway, except maybe the bride. Kate owes her dinner at KP. 

Let's reconvene on Friday, all y'all. 

Wedding in Thurlestone, Tiara Appearance Planned, & November Get-Away?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Good morning all! [Update: Rebecca English has confirmed that Kate was not present at this wedding. This explains why there were no pictures. :( I have left the original text, but now that this update negates...almost everything. :)  Apparently, the Duchess was with William on the trip down, so it is a bit of a mystery. She may not have wanted to attend the wedding, but perhaps they still spent the weekend as a little get-away? Walking the area and sightseeing? ] Apparently,  William and Kate snuck away to Cornwall this weekend for the wedding of Bear Maclaine and Daisy Dickson in the seaside of village of Thurleston in Devon. To my frank disappointment, no pictures have emerged, but perhaps that is for the best on this one occasion since this weekend has been so highly charged with discussion of paparazzi photographs, etc. I suspect Wills and Kate made a mini break of it, since Devon (and Cornwall more broadly) is such a beautiful part of England. I assume the wedding took place at All Saints in Thurlestone, but that is pure speculation:

All Saints, Thurlestone

When the two attended a wedding in Suffolk on the weekend of their first wedding anniversary,  they stayed with other guests at the country inn that had been rented for the wedding and enjoyed breakfast with other guests the morning after the wedding.

Hopefully, this weekend, they enjoyed the sweeping seascapes and light hiking areas of the region before returning to Norfolk. Kate's sister Pippa was also at the wedding, in addition to a number of the royal couple's social circle, so it would have been a very festive environment. 

It is very likely that Kate recycled an ensemble as she often does when attending a wedding. I think part of the reasoning on this is usually that Kate does not want to upstage the bride, but more and more I also think it is simple practicality. She has so, so many beautiful pieces in her wardrobe and she can only wear them a few times in public, if that. Sometimes for a wedding she adds a new element to a recycled ensemble, as she did for Zara's wedding:

She might mix and match two pieces she has worn before, but not together, as she did to this family wedding:

Certainly, she might wear something new (publicly unseen, at least), as well, as she did when she chose this Beulah London dress:

In short, I have no idea what she wore, but I bet it was lovely. If pictures emerge, I will certainly inform you. Hopefully, the Cmabridges had a lovely time! This young woman shared a post on Instagram detailing her own get-away in Thurlestone, and the area looks idyllic:

A photo posted by Megan Evans (@meggles_london) on

Yesterday, we had some more very happy news: relief is on the way. We will be seeing TRH the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge out together in October (if we do not see them sooner). When William visited China earlier this year, he personally invited President Xi Jinping to visit the United Kingdon, and his invitation was accepted. The Palace announced:
The President of The People’s Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping, accompanied by Madame Peng Liyuan, has accepted an invitation from Her Majesty The Queen to pay a State Visit to the United Kingdom during October 2015. The President and Madame Peng will stay at Buckingham Palace.
This didn't really catch the particular interest of Royal Watchers until lovely Twitter friend CepeSmith spotted an announcement in the London Times stating that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will attend the State Banquet when the Chinese president visits. This news is made even more exciting because as a white tie event, Kate will be in a floor-length dress and wearing a tiara.  We have only seen Kate wear a tiara twice, and only once when fully visible, so I think the anticipation for this event will be quite high:

There is obviously a correlation between William's visit to China and the Cambridges planned appearance at the State Banquet. Just as when the President of Singapore and his wife made their visit, the Cambridges--who had visited Singapore as part of the Diamond Jubilee Tour--welcomed them at their hotel. At that time, some had held out hope the two would also attend the State Banquet, but those hopes were doomed to be disappointed. This October, we should finally get our tiara appearance!

In the vacuum department: the word on the street is that Kate and William will be taking a family vacation to Mustique in November. I know there is some confusion as to whether this will supplant the Middleton family holiday that takes places annually in late January/early February. There is nothing to suggest this is the case. I would also add that all details about this planned holiday are tentative at best. We have no absolute confirmation, the Cambridges may not be planning this vacation at all, or may be planning it for a different locale. I think they are probably planning a get-away, but I am surprised that they would choose Mustique unless they already know they will not be able to make the Middleton gathering over the winter.

If they are planning on Mustique, I think it is likely because of the strict privacy laws on the island and of course, their own familiarity with the hideaway, which will make it easier for them to juggle with two young children. The story from Katie Nicholl also says that the Cambridges will bring Carole to keep an eye on George and Charlotte... I hope it is true, and I suspect sometime this fall a vacation will take place, but I think this story needs to develop a little more before we can more certainly guess the here, when, and who. 

Ok, all y'all. That's it from Jane for the moment. It has been a busy weekend here on the blog! I will be back this week, though, so we won't have the same long dearth of posts that we did these past two weeks. Again, my apologies on that one!  Happy Sunday! 

Royal Pap Shots: Terrorism Issue, Not Privacy

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Yesterday, William and Kate's Press Secretary Jason Knauf released a very interesting letter on behalf of TRHs addressing paparazzi pictures of Prince George. It was quite different from any other communiqué, where the press office released some boiler-plate complaint to which no one really paid much mind.

This letter was a direct appeal to the public, in addition to the foreign editors. Not only that, it did not just allude to paparazzi activity, it spelled out in detail certain tactics used to gain these snaps. Most relevantly, it discussed a certain incident which seems to have sparked what has developed into quite a serious issue. The scenario described is as follows:
One recent incident – just last week – was disturbing, but not at all uncommon. A photographer rented a car and parked in a discreet location outside a children's play area. Already concealed by darkened windows, he took the added step of hanging sheets inside the vehicle and created a hide stocked with food and drinks to get him through a full day of surveillance, waiting in hope to capture images of Prince George. Police discovered him lying down in the boot of the vehicle attempting to shoot photos with a long lens through a small gap in his hide.
As you are all aware, I have strongly supported paparazzi photos of the adult royals over the years. I think that as long as William and Kate are in a public place, they are not exempt from the camera. I have argued that if they need complete seclusion, they have houses to retreat to and vacation destinations at their disposal. 

The problem with this letter is that it isn't actually addressing pure privacy. This memo talks about privacy, but the core point is actually security, which is a separate matter. The Palace stated:
In a heightened security environment such tactics are a risk to all involved. The worry is that it will not always be possible to quickly distinguish between someone taking photos and someone intending to do more immediate harm.
The concern here is not privacy, it is terrorism! Safety, not image, is what has really rattled William and Kate, and in all honesty, it rattles me, too. We live in an increasingly violent and ugly world, and political unrest is sweeping the globe. I do not doubt for a minute that precious baby George and soon his sister Charlotte and siblings to follow, might be targets. 

The Met Police issued a statement after the Palace's, and I have emphasized some parts in bold that I think are particularly important:
The covert actions of photographers have at times caused concerns during police protection operations when they have been considered a possible security threat.
Our role is to maintain security and there is a risk to those who choose to use covert tactics when a police operation is in place. At a time when the national security threat level from international terrorism is at severe, all officers are at a heightened level of readiness.
Officers involved in the security of protected people are armed and have to constantly assess security risks. Photographers using covert tactics often come to the attention of armed officers who take steps to stop and verify the details of those who raise suspicions. Photographers are potentially putting themselves at risk from armed intervention where our armed officers perceive a risk to the personal safety of their principal, the public and themselves.

When assessing potential threats armed officers have to make split second decisions regarding their use of force in order to protect their principals, the public and their colleagues.

Whilst the majority of photographers work responsibly we would ask those that choose to use covert tactics to consider their actions in light of this potential risk.
Plain translation: take these covert snaps at your own risk.  If you are hiding in the boot of your car and we mistake the glint of your camera lens to be the edge of a deadly weapon, and we take were warned. This is very serious! When people are assassinated in broad daylight, one minute it is normal and the next someone is dead. That's how WWI got kicked off. I think we forget that the security details attached to the royals are not just fancy accouterments. Terrorism is at an all-time high and it can be very hard for an officer to determine if he/she has a real situation or just a snapper, and they have a life or death call to make with very little time to deliberate. 

The problem I have is that the Palace seems to be mixing the two issues. They framed an aspect of paparazzi shots that has created a security concern for both the subject of the snaps (George, Kate, Carole, whomever) and the safety of the photographer should he be mistaken for someone with nefarious designs! We are not talking about a privacy line so much as we are talking about people's lives. That is a bigger deal. 

There is obviously some overlap here, but to frame it foremost as privacy concern with security mixed in is disingenuous and probably harmful. The Met police--who provide the PPOs for the royal family--are having trouble distinguishing a paparazzo from a security threat. That is a tough issue to solve because in this instance the pap could look the same as the security threat, but it is not the same issue and ought not to bundled in with it. Possibly, the Palace is thinking they can use the security threat to also make a stab (pun partially intended) at the pap shots they are always frustrated by. If this is the case, it is very unwise to attempt to put them together. This should be presented to the public as a separate issue. Only when it is unpacked can we really fully assess the situation and work toward a solution. 

At this point, the Met seems to be throwing down a reasonable warning. If you are a pap and are taking photos in the normal manner of a pap photographer, out in the open, etc, the royals will be annoyed, but that's a privacy spat. If you are using elaborate tactics to hide yourself in this "covert" manner and the police cannot immediately determine if you are a threat or just a snapper, you might be risking your life. 

The Palace has chosen the wrong tact on this and and should immediately switch their strategy. From the two documents it appears that both photographers and possibly George are in danger, and it should not look like the Palace press office is trying to capitalize on this to end casual photos in general. To be clear, I do not say this because I am looking to defend pap shots, but because one issue is far, far more grave than the other. We can all disagree about whether pap shots of George, taken in a public location, are fair, but no one would argue that his safety must be assured, in addition to the safety of the photographers, no matter how much you dislike their work! 

The sooner the Palace does away with the double-talk, makes the distinction, and says--we have a problem balancing paparazzi photos, not because they annoy us, but because our security team often worries that a photographer is a terrorist--the sooner we should be able to get some traction to fix the issue. That might be the better deterrent, too. Paps: you could die. Do you want to die? For a few photos? Because someone on the beat was stressed and thought they had a terrorist gunning for the future king of England? I think the covert photos would either stop or almost disappear. That wouldn't dry up candids, but it would alleviate that particular security concern. 

So, to be very clear. A valid discussion can be had about paparazzi pictures and children. What is the line, where is the line, etc. But, this is not that discussion. This is a very, very serious matter, related to paparazzi activity, but having to do with security, and it should be dealt with as the primary issue and not as a part of a broader problem that has been (and will be) an ongoing dispute between the Palace and the public. 

KP Letter on Prince George Paparazzi Photos

Friday, August 14, 2015

Good morning all! I have already posted this morning on more Kate-centered topics, and you can see that post here, or scroll down to the next post. I am quickly popping back in to share a letter released by Jason Knauf on behalf of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It addresses, in detail, paparazzi pictures of Prince George and the tactics and issues used to obtain them. It includes an appeal to the public, as well.  We have discussed pap shots of George before, but in light of this letter, I thought I would share its contents and invite a discussion.

The full text is as follows:

From: Jason Knauf, Communications Secretary to TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and HRH Prince Henry of Wales, 14th August, 2015

I am writing to provide an overview of the current challenges facing Kensington Palace as we seek to protect Prince George and Princess Charlotte from harassment and surveillance by paparazzi photographers. I hope our experience will inform the ongoing effort to uphold standards on the protection of children in a rapidly changing media landscape.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have expressed their gratitude to British media organisations for their policy of not publishing unauthorised photos of their children. This stance, guided not just by their wishes as parents, but by the standards and codes of the industry as it relates to all children, is to be applauded. They are pleased also that almost all reputable publications throughout the Commonwealth – in particular Australia, Canada, and New Zealand – and in other major media markets like the United States have adopted a similar position.
The Duke and Duchess are glad that leaders in the media industry share the view that every child, regardless of their future public role, deserves a safe, happy, and private childhood. They have been delighted to share official photographs of Prince George and Princess Charlotte in recent months to thank the public for the thousands of kind messages of support they have received. News photographers have had several recent opportunities to take photos of the family and these will be a regular occurrence as both children get older.
Despite this, paparazzi photographers are going to increasingly extreme lengths to observe and monitor Prince George's movements and covertly capture images of him to sell to the handful of international media titles still willing to pay for them. One recent incident – just last week – was disturbing, but not at all uncommon. A photographer rented a car and parked in a discreet location outside a children's play area. Already concealed by darkened windows, he took the added step of hanging sheets inside the vehicle and created a hide stocked with food and drinks to get him through a full day of surveillance, waiting in hope to capture images of Prince George. Police discovered him lying down in the boot of the vehicle attempting to shoot photos with a long lens through a small gap in his hide.
It is of course upsetting that such tactics – reminiscent as they are of past surveillance by groups intent on doing more than capturing images – are being deployed to profit from the image of a two-year old boy. In a heightened security
environment such tactics are a risk to all involved. The worry is that it will not always be possible to quickly distinguish between someone taking photos and someone intending to do more immediate harm.
This incident was not an isolated one. In recent months photographers have:
• on multiple occasions used long range lenses to capture images of The Duchess playing with Prince George in a number of private parks;
• monitored the movements of Prince George and his nanny around London parks and monitored the movements of other household staff;
• photographed the children of private individuals visiting The Duke and Duchess's home;
• pursued cars leaving family homes;
• used other children to draw Prince George into view around playgrounds;
• been found hiding on private property in fields and woodland locations around The Duke and Duchess's home in Norfolk;
• obscured themselves in sand dunes on a rural beach to take photos of Prince George playing with his grandmother;
• placed locations near the Middleton family home in Berkshire under steady surveillance
It is clear that while paparazzi are always keen to capture images of any senior member of The Royal Family, Prince George is currently their number one target. We have made the decision to discuss these issues now as the incidents are becoming more frequent and the tactics more alarming. A line has been crossed and any further escalation in tactics would represent a very real security risk.
All of this has left The Duke and Duchess concerned about their ability to provide a childhood for Prince George and Princess Charlotte that is free from harassment and surveillance. They know that almost all parents love to share photos of their children and they themselves enjoy doing so. But they know every parent would object to anyone – particularly strangers – taking photos of their children without their permission. Every parent would understand their deep unease at only learning they had been followed and watched days later when photographs emerged.
The Duke and Duchess are of course very fortunate to have private homes where photographers cannot capture images of their children. But they feel strongly that both Prince George and Princess Charlotte should not grow up exclusively behind palace gates and in walled gardens. They want both children to be free to play in public and semi-public spaces with other children without being photographed. In addition, the privacy of those other children and their families must also be preserved.
Rest assured that we continue to take legal steps to manage these incidents as they occur. But we are aware that many people who read and enjoy the publications that fuel the market for unauthorised photos of children do not know about the unacceptable circumstances behind what are often lovely images. The use of these photos is usually dressed up with fun, positive language about the 'cute', 'adorable' photos and happy write ups about the family. We feel readers deserve to understand the tactics deployed to obtain these pictures.
We hope a public discussion of these issues will help all publishers of unauthorised photos of children to understand the power they hold to starve this disturbing activity of funding. I would welcome constructive conversations with any publisher or editor on these topics. And I would ask for your help as we work to encourage the highest standards on the protection of children in every corner of the media. The Duke and Duchess are determined to keep the issues around a small number of paparazzi photographers distinct and separate from the positive work of most newspapers, magazines, broadcasters, and web publishers around the world.
The text from this letter, which has been sent to a number of people in leadership positions, will be placed in the public domain to raise awareness of the issues discussed.
Jason Knauf,
Communications Secretary, Kensington Palace
I don't have the time today to write my thoughts on the topic, but over the weekend I will try and formulate a post to share with you my thoughts. I welcome your comments now or later as we each judge and determine our stances.  If discussion does ensue, as always, please be respectful of positions stated. I won't publish any comment that attacks another reader for his or her opinion.

I have made allusions to my changing schedule over the past few months. For reasons of privacy I will not say where, but I have begun graduate studies in law and my schedule will be hectic this year. I will do my best to approve comments as quickly as I can, but of necessity, there will be delays while I am in class, etc. Thanks for your patience as I work out the best schedule to balance all my commitments! 

Kate's August Break: Last Year's Pregnancy Announcement

Oh, August. It is the slowest month of the Royal Watching year. January can feel sluggish, and July feels never-ending at times, but nothing beats August when the Queen retreats to her Balmoral Estate in the Scottish Highlands. Most of the royal family follow suit and disappear into hibernation one place or another, and for obvious reasons, this is when many royal reporters and photographers take off, too. We are left with, well, almost nothing. This time of the year always has Kate-fans feeling like this:

It was under the cover of this annual silence that the Duchess of Cambridge was able to conceal her early pregnancy. At he very start of August 2014 the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry had very busy schedules. The trio were in Belgium on August 4th for WWI Commemorations with dignitaries from around the world:

The day included a lantern lit ceremony at dusk at the St. Symphorien Military Cemetery:

Kate wore a bespoke McQueen for this event. I loved it at the time and it just continues to grow on me. I think it divided opinion, but I thought she was picture perfect in this. Those pleats!! This gorgeous shot by James Whatling is one of my favorite. It's so serene and I love the blurred purple (lavender?) in the background. 

The very next day, they were back in London visiting the poppy installment at the Tower of London: Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. 

Interestingly, Kate appeared to already be letting her roots go at that time. 

On the 28th of August the couple were spotted on what appeared to be a low-key, but romantic date in Norfolk.

The two seemed to be celebrating something. As they shared some wine, William held Kate's hand at various times during the meal. When the news that Kate was pregnant broke, it was suggested to me that Kate had likely told William right around that time, which I think is a very reasonable theory. 

The couple were alone in Norfolk for a fortnight, putting finishing touches on their Anmer Hall home, and I believe catching a mini-holiday together before they rolled back into the busy season of engagements. If they knew Kate was pregnant, they were probably hoping for the best, but anticipating she would likely be sick sooner rather than later. Which indeed turned out to be the case. They were pictured returning to London for a slew of upcoming engagements, none of which the Duchess was ultimately able to make.

We were due to see Kate (with William) at the opening of the Dickson Poon University of Oxford China Centre Building on September 8th. This event forced the royals to announce that the Duchess had to withdraw from the highly anticipated event because she was pregnant with her second child! William attended on his own and spent the majority of his time thanking excited well-wishers...and unveiling a plaque that was no longer accurate. :)

The Duchess spent a lot of time resting in Bucklebury during this period. Carole and Mike were doubtless able to give the very energetic George lots of love and attention while his mummy was feeling so ill, and of course Carole was able to take very good care of Kate. As I am sure we all recall, she cancelled a number of engagements throughout September before she was pictured at her doctor's appointment for her 12-week scan.

She was spotted at a pub with William shortly after and we didn't have too long to wait until she made her official comeback when welcoming President and Mrs. Tan of Singapore. (I chose this picture to highlight the cuff on this McQueen sleeve. These details on Sarah Burton pieces are exquisite!)

That was all a year ago! It is a little hard to believe how quickly time has scooted along. A year later, Kate and William can look forward to a much more pleasant September as they enjoy the fruits of last year's suffering in the joys of Charlotte's arrival.

So, when will we see Kate again? As we have chatted about in the past, the Cambridges do not seem to visit Her Majesty in August. While it could be that various extenuating circumstances have changed their pattern, thus far they seem to like to visit her in September. I think they are likely enjoying the last days of summer in Norfolk and that we will see them pick up their public schedule again next month. As mentioned at the start, this is an historic holiday time, and the reporters are getting a break as well.  Look at it this way...we are halfway through August!

Happy weekend, all!

Zara Tindall & the Cambridges

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Four years ago, Kate and William were finishing of their weekend in Scotland attending Zara Phillps wedding to Mike Tindall. they were photographed taking walking hand-in-hand in Holyrood Park William and Kate had finished off a blockbuster tour of Canada and Southern California earlier in the month, but these shots were still very exciting. We were still getting used to Kate Middleton as the Duchess of Cambridge and these very normal and sweet moments were charming everyone!

On the 29th, the night before the wedding, the royals gathered on the Royal Yacht Britannia for a cocktail party after the rehearsal.  Kate wore the DVF "Maja" she had debuted earlier in the month in Los Angeles, and paired it with black Prada pumps, her Anya Hindmrach clutch, and her Cassandra Goad "Temple of Heaven" earrings. (see where she has worn these other items before at this ensemble's outfit page at Kate's Clothes, here.)

Zara and Mike wed the next day at Canongate Kirk with their families around them. Kate recycled her DAY brocade coat, which she has worn to more than one wedding, and added a new, striking hat by Gina Foster. 

This was likely a particularly moving wedding, because not only was this a family wedding, but Zara is quite close to William, and Kate seems to have a very good rapport with her, too. William's first cousin, Zara is very down-to-earth with a relaxed personality.

She is a bit of a tom-boy and easily mingled with William and Harry from the earliest days, probably standing in as the sister they never had. Both boys are close to her. They are paired together in the photos of most family events. I particularly like this shot from 1984 with Zara are snuggling up to William as they watched the flyover at Trooping:

Here are Zara and William are goofing around outside St. Mary Magdalene on Christmas Day in 1988 in the exact spot where William's own son dashed about amusing his elders and peeking at his sister in her pram.

They holiday together, here the trio (William, Harry, and Zara) posed for photographers in Klosters with Prince Charles in 1998:

Here, William escorts Zara on the Christmas morning walk to church at Sandringham in 2009...

...and gives an affectionate and teasing hug while enjoying Gatcombe with family in 2010. 

Kate and Zara seemed to get on well as William began to incorporate his girlfriend into his royal life, and the two women mingled often on the polo sidelines...

Zara joined William, Kate and friends at Cheltenham in 2007 when the world got their first look at the fissures in the royal romance:

Zara was seated right in front of Kate at the Diana Memorial concert in 2007, and she turned often to laugh and interact with Kate, who at that time was publicly still "the ex" even though privately she and William were already on the mend.

Here, Kate was attending Peter Phillips's birthday party here in November of 2007 with William, Zara and her then-boyfriend Mike Tindall:

Zara keeps a low-profile, but I always enjoy seeing the photos of her with the more active royals when they are relaxing in down time. At a polo game in 2012, Zara spent a lot of time playing with her niece Savannah, and she was joined by Kate who had not yet had her first at that time:

Below, Zara stops to greet William and Kate outside the service marking the 60th anniversary of the Queen's coronation:

Zara and her husband Mike joined Prince Harry (with whom Zara is also close) in a charity rugby match in wheelchairs during the Invitcus Games.

The trio had a ball on the court while Peter Phillips, his wife Autumn, Pippa and James Middleton watched from the stands:

With so much history, it is no surprise that the young royals remain close. Nine years after their day at the Rundle Polo Club, the two women were greeting each other at the sidelines of another game, this time Kate is a Duchess and both women have children they will doubtless raise with the same connection that Zara enjoyed with William:

A Happy Anniversary to Zara & Mike! Many more happy years!